What would need to happen in Sheffield for a Leicester-style local lockdown

Lockdown restrictions have been imposed on Leicester after a rise in coronavirus cases, including shutting non-essential shops and closing schools to most pupils.

Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 8:38 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 8:39 am
Signs in the centre of Leicester welcoming people back as the city - Joe Giddens/PA Wire

It is part of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called a "whack-a-mole strategy" to crack down on flare-ups, and could be extended to other towns and cities over the next months.

The government announced a list of 36 places in England also at risk of a local lockdown with rising coronavirus cases emerging.

But what would need to happen for a local lockdown in Sheffield or another town or county?

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PHE said there was no threshold for determining when a local lockdown should be implemented.

Advice will be given on a case-by-case basis and decisions taken by leaders based on this advice and the specific circumstances of the area, it added.

Mr Hancock gave more detail on how decisions would be taken at a local level when the new measures for Leicester were announced.

He told the House of Commons that "decisions are taken through our Local Action Committee command structure."

Talks are then progressed through a Bronze, Silver and Gold framework.

The Health Secretary added: "If Public Health England or the Joint Biosecurity Centre spots a problem that needs attention or the local director of public health reports a problem through the regional health protection teams, then the outbreak is assessed at the daily Local Action Committee Bronze meeting.

"Issues of concern are raised to the Local Action Committee Silver meeting, which is chaired by the chief medical officer.

"And problems requiring ministerial attention are then raised to the Local Action Committee Gold meeting."

Council and public health leaders have said local authorities have the powers needed to tackle outbreaks in schools, businesses or care homes.

But Greg Fell, Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) board member, told a committee of MPs this month that they did not have the power to shut down local areas or whole cities.

Any powers to lock down communities would need to be conferred to local leaders, he told the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

But he warned that if a city needed to be placed into lockdown "we may well be in national lockdown territory by that time".

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, said one of the biggest problems is deciding who is in the lockdown and who is not.

He said that locking down at a regional level could be seen as "unfair" but if Leicester was placed in lockdown then questions remained about how much of the surrounding area should be included.

He added: "One of the biggest problems is deciding who is in the lockdown area and who is not. This needs to be understandable to both the people who are inside and the people on the outside.

"Locking down at the regional level would be seen as unfair or worse as Leicester city has really very little to do with rural Lincolnshire. People do not identify with their regional boundaries and many would not actually know where they are."